The petition will be presented to the House of Representatives on Tuesday, 8 February. According to reporting by the GIC, despite the massive response to the petition, De Jonge’s successor, Minister Ernst Kuipers, continues to stick by the plan to centralize care at two hospitals in the west of the country – Utrecht and Rotterdam – but the House of Representatives will debate the question of which centers may close on 17 February.
UMCG serves the three northern provinces and some patients from Overijssel. Consolidating specialist care can give medical professionals more opportunities to carry out more scheduled procedures, which is intended to help them improve their skills. However, for unplanned cases and emergencies, such as drownings or heart defects discovered at birth, having to travel several hours to the nearest pediatric cardiology department can be a matter of life or death for patients.
The petition was launched by UMCG on 22 December, and hundreds of protestors took part in a recent torch-lit march through Groningen in January to call for the center at UMCG to remain open. The protest was originally intended in response to announced plans to increase gas extraction in Groningen in the coming months, but other major local issues, like the fate of the hospital, were part of the motivation for some participants to take part.
On Monday night, a message of support for the treatment center and a red heart was projected on the front entrance of UMCG: “Have a heart for the north”
Photo courtesy of the Groninger Internet Courant